Singapore Expands Covid Restrictions As Cases Remain High

People inside a shopping mall in Singapore on May 15, 2021, ahead of tightening restrictions due to concerns about an increase in the number of cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus.

Roslan Rahman | AFP | Getty Images

SINGAPORE – Authorities announced on Wednesday extending restrictions on COVID in Singapore for another four weeks after the number of new daily cases hit a record 3,994 on Tuesday.

The restrictions, which include restricting the size of groups for public gatherings and doing work from home by default, will now be in effect until November 21, with a revision in two weeks.

“In the current environment, we face a significant risk of overloading the healthcare system,” Treasury Secretary Lawrence Wong said in a press briefing on Wednesday.

The measures were slated to take effect from September 27 to October 24, and health authorities said they will revise the restrictions again based on the Covid situation.

Singapore has tightened and relaxed restrictions several times this year, easing them in response to the number of Covid cases. The government has repeatedly said it wants to ensure that the healthcare system is not overwhelmed.

At the same press briefing, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said the record number of cases is likely to jump after the weekend.

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Health said local hospitals were under “significant pressure and strain” as the number of patients in the intensive care unit rose to 71, according to published official figures.

Of the 1,650 beds in public hospitals, 89% are full, the health ministry said in a press release. The report says that about 67% of beds in intensive care units are occupied, although some patients have been hospitalized for follow-up purposes.

“If necessary, we will open more beds in intensive care units,” Ong said. “The next jump will be 300 beds, but that will come at the expense of further deterioration in normal care and normal medical care.”

Health authorities also called on people to limit their social activities and said on Tuesday that more people visited shopping malls or used public transportation in the past week

The health ministry said the number of unvaccinated older adults infected has risen to about 100 a day, noting that this group is particularly vulnerable and at risk of serious illness.

According to official figures, as of Tuesday, a total of 1,738 people are in hospitals, of which 338 need an oxygen supplement. The vast majority of cases have had no or mild symptoms in the past 28 days.

Since the start of the pandemic, Singapore has reported 154,725 cases and about 84% of its population have been vaccinated. About 246 people have died from Covid-19 in the Southeast Asian country of about 5.45 million.

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